Tuesday, October 27, 2009

What I've Been Up To

So, on Facebook yesterday, I ran into a friend. How I got there was interesting, kind of... to me...

So, my old boss started following the Defense Information School (DINFOS) and so I started looking through their posts, and I thought, I wonder if anyone I went to school with is listed as a friend. So I looked and I didn't recognize any of the names. Then one name popped into my head, so I searched for him, and there was a picture of a guy playing bass, and I remembered that he played bass, so I sent him a message asking if it was him, he responded that it was. He wondered what I've been up to since, May 12, 1992. The day I turned 21, and left Fort Benjamin Harrison, Indiana.

So Scott, from my 21st birthday here's a general recap of what I've been up to...

After finishing the Basic Journalism Course, I was assigned to Fort Richardson, Alaska. While in Alaska, I got to do some really cool things. (Being a journalist did have it's advantages) I got to go walk on glaciers, I got to climb the rocky cliffs that were cut out by those glaciers. I once flew to Mount McKinley with the Ambassador to the United States from India, as he was going to talk to a multi-national climbing expedition up the mountain. I got to go to airborne school (I'm a 5 jump chump). I was a writer, photographer, and eventually the editor for the army in Alaska newspaper (then the Arctic Star). I was on deployments to Fort Chaffee, Arkansas; Fort Lewis, Washington; Guam; Thailand. While in Alaska, I met a girl and got married. I bought my first car, a 94 Chevy Cavalier. On consecutive days, playing flag football, I broke my right thumb (Bennett's Fracture) and then broke my left middle finger. Through dubious circumstances I became the Fort Richardson Soldier of the Month at one point. After getting my first 2 tattoos on consecutive days (May 1, 1992 and May 2, 1992) with you there; I got 6 more. The third came when I was on leave before getting to Alaska. I haven't gotten any since I left Alaska in '95. With my two broken hands, the wife and I drove from Alaska down to Illinois. We made the 4000 mile trip in 3.5 days (actually 4 days, but we only stopped 3 nights).

My next (and last) duty station was Fort Meade, Maryland. There, I made a lot of good friends. I didn't do near as much there as I did in Alaska, or so it seemed. I took up golf. I went from publishing a weekly paper to doing a monthly newsletter, that gave me a lot of free time, so I started learning more about computers. I had a boss who was nice enough to let me go to classes and get certified on Microsoft products, even though I was a journalist. At Meade, it seems like I didn't do very much; but when I left my boss had a bagillion jobs to put on my award recommendation, to which it was kicked back as they didn't think that I really did all those/had those titles. They included: NBC NCO; Brigade Print Officer; Brigade Historian; Squad Leader; Platoon Sgt; Urinalysis Observer (yeah, I was the guy who had to watch people pee into a cup); I know there was more, but I can't remember them. At Meade, I got promoted to sergeant. I was the company soldier and NCO of the month/quarter on numerous occasions. I was the brigade soldier/NCO of the quarter/month at least once.

At the end of '98 the army decided I should go to Korea for a year. I was in my re-enlistment window, so I had the choice to go to Korea and re-enlist, or sign a declination of continued service statement and get out. I was still married, and thought that the one year separation has hurt stronger marriages than what I had, so I got out.

The wife and I moved back to Illinois in '99. We initially moved in with my dad. I got a contract job working in Champaign at Carle Clinic doing computer server administration, and helping with a migration from Novell to Microsoft. The wife got a job at a bank. After a couple of months, I took on a new contract at Growmark in Bloomington. We moved into a crappy apartment. I hated this job. Well, the job was ok, I just couldn't stand the environment. It was too quiet, everyone whispered. So I begged my pimp to get me back to Carle, thankfully, one of the guys left, so there was an opening. So I went back to Carle.

The wife then got accepted at the University of Illinois, which is in Champaign, and I worked in Champaign, and we lived in Pontiac, which is 70 miles away, so we moved to an apartment in Champaign. We lived there for about a year, and she was offered a full-time (AGR) job in Peoria in the National Guard, which was a pretty good deal. Peoria is 100 miles from Champaign. So we started to look for a house. It seemed as though it was time to settle down. Ideally we would have found a place right in the middle, so we both had 50 mile commutes. Instead we found a place that was 30 or so from Peoria and 70 from my work (71.8 to be exact).

This place was awesome, I loved it; for some reason she wasn't that happy there, which I still don't understand. The house itself wasn't exactly perfect, but given enough time, we could have really made it great. It was 2800 square feet. It used to be the clubhouse for the subdivision. It had 3.5 acres on a lake; with a 50x20 in-ground swimming pool. Because it was the clubhouse, it had 4 downstairs bathrooms (a boys changing room/girls changing room/ boys bathroom/girls bathroom). It had a huge brick fireplace in both the up and downstairs. The lake was stocked with fish. We had family coming up from Georgia at least 3 times a year. My sister from Chicago area came down several times. It was a great place for the family to come. The wife's mother even came once, from Maine.

While living there, I spent a lot of time alone. (We had 2 dogs, Peggy and King). The wife went to 2 different MOS producing schools (I think). One was helicopter mechanic school. This was like four months or longer. Also, her unit got deployed to Iraq. While she was gone, I kind of developed some OCD germ-aphobia. Before her mid-tour leave, I went about 3 months without touching anyone. This was in 2004. I haven't touched a bathroom door handle since then, except once; at which point I just sort of stared at my hand in amazement. When she finally got back from Iraq, she was different. The mid-tour wife was great, the end-of-tour one was way different. She thought I had changed, I knew she had. We didn't really work well together. I kind of figured she just needed a changed of scenery, since she didn't like the house (which still baffles me), so we put the house up for sale. One day after going back after seeing a movie, she said to me "when we sell the house, I'm not moving with you". I wasn't surprised. I had expected something like that for a while. So, we sold the house, she moved to Decatur, Illinois, and I moved to Urbana (where I worked). We saw each other a couple of times, but it was weird.

We got divorced at some point. I think it was Jan of 2006. She took the dogs. Since then she's gotten remarried, and had a kid. That's the end of her in my story.

One New Years Day (2005, I think) I had to help my brother get one of his cars from the Quad Cities. I drove him up, and he drove his vehicle back. On the drive back I started to get some ideas of art projects I'd like to do. I was never too artsy before, but I thought I'd like to do some things. So I set about doing some stuff. It started with wanting to make some plaster masks. So I made masks out of all sorts of material. I did a few other things, that culminated with my life-sized cross.

One day, I was at Billy Barooz (a bar in town) and was showing some of the things I made to one of the bartendresses, and she said that for being artsy, I drink crappy beer (I pretty much only drank Miller Lite back then). So she gave me a Bells Amber to try. I liked it, and that became my beer of choice.

Well, Bells Amber was replaced in the spring by Bells Oberon, I didn't (and don't) like Oberon, so I tried all the beers they had. Then I started trying lots more beers. Most of you who read this, know that I'm on Landover Baptist Forums, where I lead the Bible in a Year. One of my friends there said that he saw a 365 beer challenge website. The goal was to drink 365 different beers in a year. At the time, I wondered if I could do it. So I applied myself. I started that around Jan 7, 2007. I reached the 365 marker of unique beers on April 1. I finished the year at 1200 beers.

Based on my experiences with drinking, I applied for the Wynkoop Brewery Beer Drinker of the Year competition. Well, I didn't win. But they did select me as the first ever Rookie of the Year. So I've got some shirts that say "Beer Drinker of the Year; Rookie of the Year" (2007) So, that's my beer claim to fame; at least for now.

In 2008, my spreadsheet says I had 731 different beers (unique, ones that weren't in 2007). So for those two years, I have 1930 different beers. I stopped keeping a list on March 31 of this year, at beer 92. Which puts my three year list at 2022.

A couple years back, my buddy Pat wanted to start a band with him playing drums, our buddy Thad playing guitar, another friend on keyboards, and Pat's wife on bass. I was over at the house one day, and she wasn't there, so they had me go down and pluck an A. I was hooked, and started playing bass. I'm not that great, but I think I'm ok.

In 2007 I started dating a girl named Kristy (who I refer to as Kridz). No matter how much anyone asks, I don't plan on getting married. I like to say "My girlfriend drives me to drink; thankfully she drives me home after".

I'm sort of a busy guy. My fall schedule was this.

Sunday: go to Hooters to watch football.
Monday: softball
Tuesday: softball (mostly every other week)
Wednesday: Pool league
Thursday: 9:30-midnight or so, Beer Class
Friday: nothing, although that nothing winds up being something half the time
Saturday: nothing, that also becomes something.

Softball just ended, so I'm getting two nights back a week now.

Both Kridz and I have our own houses, so that's kind of inconvenient. We spend half the nights at my place, and half at hers.

I'm kind of a collector (goes back to the OCD). I'm got collections of yo-yo's; beer; music; magic books; I once had a collection of disposable wipes; I've got pretty much all the mail that's been delivered to my house; I've got every unique bottle that I drank at my house; I used to have all the empty mountain dew boxes; I've got all my bottle caps; I think that's about all.

Well, I think that pretty much covers what I've been up to since the day I turned 21.



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